New Ways to Help Wildlife in Our Changing Climate

In the face of a rapidly changing climate, conservation organizations and natural resource agencies are increasingly turning to collaborative and innovative projects to protect species and ecosystems. This shift in approach is highlighted in the guide “Innovation in Climate Adaptation: Harnessing the Power of Innovation for Effective Biodiversity and Ecosystem Adaptation,” a collaborative effort by The National Wildlife Federation, U.S. Geological Survey Climate Adaptation Science Center Network, and the IUCN Species Survival Commission Climate Change Specialist Group.

The guide emphasizes the urgency of integrating climate adaptation into policies and practices, acknowledging the growing threats to biodiversity, ecosystem services, and societies due to climate extremes and novel environmental challenges. It suggests that while traditional conservation practices are vital, they may no longer be sufficient, necessitating the development and application of transformative strategies.

A prime example of such innovative collaborations is the project at Boulders Penguin Colony in Table Mountain National Park. Here, SANParks, SANCCOB, and the Dallas Zoo, supported by WWF-US, have introduced artificial nest boxes to protect penguins during heatwaves and from predators. This project demonstrates how targeted, collaborative efforts can offer direct responses to specific climate-induced challenges.

Similarly, the University of Cape Town scientists, Professor Susie Cunningham and Sean Morar, have teamed up with SANParks and the FitzPatrick Institute, funded by WWF-US, to construct a shade structure over a water hole in Tankwa Karoo National Park. This structure provides crucial relief for small birds during extreme heat conditions, showcasing the potential of collaborative projects in adapting to climate extremes.

These case studies underline the guide’s message: To effectively address the multifaceted challenges posed by climate change, conservation efforts must evolve to be more innovative and collaborative. Embracing new approaches, as seen in these projects, offers a pathway to more resilient ecosystems and species in the face of an uncertain climatic future.